Tuesday, April 07, 2015

In which the pond joins the Caterists in playing the man and not the ball, in good Tamworth style...

(Above: and more Rowe here).

The reptiles are skittish and jittery and fidgety and restless and uneasy, almost on the verge of a nervous nelly blue funk this morning, no doubt about it:

Yes, the runes are bad, the entrails offer omens of doom, the tea leaves are looking like the odd life line sometimes to be found on the palm of the hand, especially for anyone born under the star sign of Scorpio on the 4th November:


The pond would like to be able to say enough already to idle superstition, but inevitably covering the reptile beat means that superstition will always be the go.

And so on to other runish matters, and wouldn't you know it, the Caterists have this day blessed it with their chattering presence.

Yes, Nick Cater, born 7th July 1958 under the sign of Cancer, arrived in Australia in July 1989, or so the Greg Hunt search here suggested ... which means that at the tender age of 31, the Caterist suddenly became an instant expert on Australia, along with everything else, including most notably the Australian Labor party and its traditions ... as if writing from the viewpoint of a gobsmacked conservative member of Rupert's reptile commentariat provided him with a profound understanding of said traditions.

Now you might say, having a keen awareness and fondness for Australian traditions, that bringing Cater's age and his personal voyage of discovery into play is a tad personal.

It used to be called, if the pond correctly remembers its Tamworth heritage, playing the man, not the ball.

It doesn't matter what age anyone happens to be if they happen to have a decent idea. So why does the Caterist begin his wretched mouthings today this way? Let's see how it's done:

When Sam Dastyari arrived in Australia at the age of five, Martin Ferguson was vice-president of the ACTU, a body working closely with government and business on the Hawke government’s reforms. 
Now this pretender, aged 31¾, demands Ferguson be drummed out of the party he has served for more than four decades. Ferguson’s crime was to speak his mind.

No doubt the Caterist thinks it's passing clever to slip in that "¾", but it actually reveals him for the smug, pompous, pontificating, clever-dick loon he routinely reveals himself to be ...

Now the pond doesn't have that keen an interest in internal Labor party politics and disputes, but it says something about Martin Ferguson and his actions during the recent NSW election, and more generally, that his best allies are of the chattering commentariat Murdochian reptile kind.

Along with standard Caterist distortions of reality:

Dastyari declared Ferguson’s intervention “a bastard act”. It is a mistake, apparently, to criticise the party line even when the party makes a stuff-up. Consequently, Dastyari declared, “there is no place in the Labor Party for Martin Ferguson”. 
NSW Labor was unable to find a credible economist willing to support its anti-privatisation claim. Yet truth in Dastyari’s ALP is whatever the party holds to be true. Two and two may be four, sometimes five, sometimes three and sometimes all of them at once.

Cannily this suggests that the USB report, hastily altered, was prepared by a bank without any credible economists in its ranks:

The controversy began when the government’s advisor on the privatisation, UBS, released a report titled “Bad for the budget, good for the state” that concluded privatising some of the state’s assets could be detrimental to the budget’s bottom line in the long run. 
 he report, written by David Leitch and Andrew Lilley, was recalled and rereleased on Tuesday afternoon with the title “Good for the state”. It contained added information which listed benefits to the state of privatisation such as productivity benefits from increased government spending. 
Baird admitted on Wednesday that his office had contacted UBS after the original report was released to point out the analysis may have not taken in some of the broader “economic benefits” to NSW. (more at the Graudian here).

Indeed, indeed, and the pond looks forward to the promised upper house inquiry into the matter, should it ever be held.

But more to the point, Ferguson's act, irrespective of the correctness of the policy being sold, was an act of political bastardry, a deliberate attempt to subvert electoral success in the recent election ... and that's because these days Ferguson answers to different private sector masters than the ALP. To pretend that his intervention was disinterested would be to live in a Caterist cloud cuckoo land ...

There's something strange about politicians that jump the fence. Of course commentariat loons do this routinely, jumping from left to right, and no more bizarre example than the likes of Brendan O'Neill who will still assure some people with a straight face that he's a Marxist ...

Malcolm Fraser is perhaps the most conspicuous example of a major politician jumping the fence and heading left, though the pond was struck by an observation by a Shin Bet head in Dror Moreh's damning documentary The Gatekeepers that - laden with haunting memories - most of the heads of the Israeli secret service turned a little left on retirement...

But in Australia, the right has also had its conspicuous converts, not least the likes of Gary Johns, who routinely parades his old Labor party connections while strutting about amongst the reptiles like a rabid right wing warrior willing to prove that Genghis Khan was a doddering liberal with socialist, bourgeois, greenie indigenous-loving tendencies...

Ferguson, infatuated with coal and its many pleasures, has slipped easily into the same camp.

How thick and childish and blog-like does the Caterist manage to sound in his arguments?

Well being a clever dick he thinks this trading off is witty and clever and a grand put down:

“How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?” asks the interrogator O’Brien in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. 
“Four,” Winston replies. “And if the Party says that it is not four but five — then how many?” “Four.” 
O’Brien concludes: “You are a slow learner, Winston.”

This is the sort of childish nonsense you'd expect in a devoted Godwin's Law-breaking blog like the pond - yes, there is a widely recognised codicil to the law that refers to the abusive misuse of George Orwell and 1984:

A number of different Internet laws have been proposed which basically mirror Godwin. Arken's Law states: “”A discussion is over when present society is compared to George Orwell's Oceania in the book 1984.
The exact history of the law is debatable, but it is claimed that Arken's Law has its roots in the days of HTML 1.0 and earlier (such as Usenet). Any accusations of Big Brotherism, utilizing newspeak, practicing doublethink, thought policing, sending updates down the memory hole or belonging to the Anti-Sex League would all be invocations of Arken's Law. (here)

Call the law what you will - the pond will break it anyway - but do Caterists have an appropriate swear-jar for this kind of shameless rogue law-breaking?

Now if you can't conduct a discussion in a modern post-ironic hipster toilet beard and tatt way, you are by definition moronic. Thinking that quoting Orwell is some kind knock-down witty put down definitively establishes you as some kind of pre-modernist moron.

Which is why the pond rolled around in a burst of dunny-door flapping gales of laughter to read the moronic prescription offered to the ALP by the Caterists:

A vibrant, democratic party thrives on debate, encourages discordant thinking and delights in the collision of truth with error. 
Yet to deviate even slightly from modern Labor’s progressive and socialist tenets is to warrant expulsion in the minds of enforcers such as Dastyari. His leader, Bill Shorten, had the chance to defend his former colleague but chose not to do so, saying: “I would expect the administration of the Labor Party to investigate this matter and see what’s gone on.” 
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that Labor is retreating from pluralism when it is bereft of good ideas. The party is becoming ever more ruthless in fighting elections but ever less certain about what to do if it should happen to win one.

It's so nakedly obvious that the pond wonders why the Caterists bother.

Of course chattering members of the reptile commentariat want a discordant Labor party, arguing amongst itself, navel gazing and confused and divided, and inviting in the coal lovers to disrupt any sensible approach to climate science.

It's guaranteed that - if there's any coherent approach to policy - the same commentariat will then revert to the charge that the party's retreating from pluralism into a socialist monolith.

The same can be said, precisely in reverse, about a Liberal party that silences discordant thinking - on matters such as gay marriage and climate science - and does its best to silence its wet side, and retreat from pluralism into a monolith of Randian capitalism.

What's even funnier is when the Caterists think they know the real Labor tradition:

In place of policies to tackle the structural economic challenges bedevilling the nation, the ALP under Shorten’s leadership is reverting to an imagined tradition of Labor as the champion of the dispossessed, the protector of the vulnerable and the shock troops of progressive reform.

Fancy imagining that the Labor party was a protector of the vulnerable! Come on down Henry, give the Caterists what for:

Our fathers toiled for bitter bread 

While loafers thrived beside 'em, 
But food to eat and clothes to wear, 
Their native land denied 'em. 
An' so they left their native land 
In spite of their devotion, 
An' so they came, or if they stole, 
Were sent across the ocean. 
Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare 
O' Royalty's regalia, 
She left the loafers where they were, 
An' came out to Australia. 
But now across the mighty main 
The chains have come ter bind her – 
She little thought to see again 
The wrongs she left behind her. (and the rest here).

Indeed Henry, and particularly poignant at a time when the Caterists have come across the mighty main to flourish and a Nazi uniform-wearing  Paki-loving, royal ratbag, fresh from his conquests in Las Vegas, titillates the women of Canberra.

How sad that this is where your cry to knock the tyrants silly with a boomerang and boil another billy has ended up ...

Now it's not for the pond to tell the Labor party what to do - for starters, they would never have put Bill Shorten in charge if anyone paid the slightest heed to pond advice.

But the notion that the Caterists have anything more useful to offer by way of advice, saying Fergie four legs good, looking out for the vulnerable two legs bad, is risible in the extreme. Cop this:

A decade and half ago, the man Labor is considering expelling asked: “Have our party’s policies and processes drifted away from our core working-class constituency and, if so, what must be done to bring the party back on course?” 

Say what? You mean reverting to an imagined tradition of Labor as the champion of the dispossessed, the protector of the vulnerable and the shock troops of progressive reform??

But then the tired, stale rhetoric of the working class coming from a man who long ago lost interest in sensible policies is about as funny as the notion that Ferguson retains any interest in Labor's alleged core working-class constituency .... as he goes about the business of feathering his nest ...

We've run it before, but since the occasion suits, we'll run Pryor's cartoon again (and more Pryor here):

Yes that sets the mood for the Caterists' final heartfelt plea for Fergie:

Yes, yes, it'd much better to have a bath in coal ...

Of course Orwell once wrote another tract about the sort of nonsense routinely blathered in the name of class warfare, and the trust of the working-class people and the wickedness of the middle class and people who care about the environment.

There are rich pickings for anyone interested. Like this:

“You have heard then, comrades,” he said, “that we pigs now sleep in the beds of the farmhouse? And why not? You did not suppose, surely, that there was ever a ruling against beds? A bed merely means a place to sleep in. A pile of straw in a stall is a bed, properly regarded. The rule was against sheets, which are a human invention. We have removed the sheets from the farmhouse beds, and sleep between blankets. And very comfortable beds they are too! But not more comfortable than we need, I can tell you, comrades, with all the brainwork we have to do nowadays. You would not rob us of our repose, would you, comrades? You would not have us too tired to carry out our duties? Surely none of you wishes to see Jones back?”

Or this:

 “Comrades!” he cried. “You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples and bathing in coal and banking the moola. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples and coal (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples and bath in coal and bank the moola. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Yes, Jones would come back! Surely, comrades,” cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, “surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?” (the full version here thanks to the University of Adelaide).

Oh okay, five dollars in the swear jar for traducing Orwell, but don't worry, Squealer, the Caterists and Marty Ferguson are here and that's way better than Jones coming back ...

And speaking of climate science, as the pond does whenever Marty's coal mania bubbles to the surface, the lizard Oz's 'cut in haste and lay to waste' section shows signs that the reptiles are getting irritated by the Graudian's constant focus on climate science.

As the home of climate denialism in Australia, the reptiles aren't going to stand for that sort of nonsense:

It's a pretty feeble hatchet job, a stupid conflation, down there with the usual reptile denialist efforts, but it does raise an interesting question about the "B" word, "belief", which bedevils the discussion of climate science, especially amongst those who aren't scientists - rather like the pond, who accepts that the car's engine will kick over in the morning thanks to the science and the engineering, but who also believes that the battery will die this winter, guaranteed ...

For a sensible discussion of "belief" you have to leave the reptiles and head off to the New Republic's You Can't "Believe" in Climate Change, which is curiously exactly the point that George Marshall made, but which also explains why the 'cut and lay to waste' section thought Marshall's piece was contrarian gold (you won't find the 'cut and lay waste' section of the Oz laying into the likes of the world's greatest climate scientists, the Bolters, the Pellists and Moorice Newman):

Conservatives have long drawn comparisons between climate change science and a fervent religion. A 2013 National Review column articulated the parallels thus: “Religion has ritual. Global-warming alarmism has recycling and Earth Day celebrations. Some religions persecute heretics. Some global-warming alarmists identify ‘denialists’ and liken them to Holocaust deniers.” 
Their arguments work best when they can convince the public the issue is a debate between ideologies, rather than about scientific observation. By playing into the conservative trope and conflating science with faith, climate change communicators hurt their own cause. The same people wouldn’t discuss gravity as a faith. Evolution is no more a belief, either. But the ongoing controversies over teaching evolution in schools shows how a certain segment of the population has always been at odds with scientific fact, at least since the days of Tennessee v. Scopes. Generations of philosophical opposition to science has made it easier for corporations with vested interests against regulations to sow doubt among the willfully ignorant.

Including the reptiles, with the lizard Oz a firm believer in teaching the controversy.

But then strangely the New Republic piece ended this way:

Ah there's the rub. You can't stand on agreed-upon fact with the reptiles.  Every day in every way their job is to convince their reading public that climate science is a religion and a debate between ideologies, rather than about scientific observation...

And so to a couple of nice ones from Cathy Wilcox, and more Wilcox here:


  1. Take from Mr. Cater what you will, but to me, reading anything from a person who closely resembles a linament, Goanna salve salesman would be foolish in the extreme!

  2. I'm surprised at the stand News Ltd is taking against anti-vaxers. Surely this is a matter of belief, not science? And what about freedom of speech? But the anti-vaxers are bludgers on welfare, so that's OK.


  3. Transfield staff on Manus and Nauru told they can't communicate with any organisation held to be "opposed to Transfield p[olicies."

    "Workers cannot join a political party that does not agree with Transfield’s actions, or attend a political rally in opposition to offshore processing.

    “In his/her capacity as a Transfield Services employee or contractor, a worker must not engage in any activity which may result in a conflict of interest with the conduct of the operations on behalf of the department. This includes the following types of conduct:

    - promoting, showing support for, or maintaining a membership with an incompatible organisation, and

    - showing support for the closure of offshore processing centres by engaging in activities such as public rallies or demonstrations.”

    An “incompatible organisation” is defined as any group critical of offshore processing of asylum seekers."


    Nice to see the kind of police state being enforced by Abbott.

  4. If Cater really has been in Australia since 1989, you'd think he'd have taken some time to learn a little about the country and its working-class politics. You steered him in the right direction with that Lawson poem.

    Labor in Australia has had a long history of internal party warfare, frequently descending into splits or expulsions. It is not unusual in the battle for ideas. Labor's greatest leaders - Curtin, Chifley, Whitlam, Dunstan - spent long formative years in the outer, often only narrowly avoiding expulsion. It went with the territory that you had to fight for your beliefs, and they did.

    But one thing that was conspicuous throughout all those wars, with the possible exception of Lang: you never ratted on your rivals to sabotage an election campaign. Yet in recent years Rudd and his lackeys did this in the 2010 campaign against Gillard, and more or less continued for the 3 years afterwards. Now we have Martin Ferguson, a Rudd ally during those wars, sabotage a NSW Labor state campaign on behalf of the coal lobby.

    As Lionel Murphy once remarked to a public criticism from Gough, "It's not the most conspicuous example of loyalty I've ever seen."

    1. :)³

      Reading Cater on the Labor party is like watching the experts describe a camel. He really doesn't have a clue. As well as Lang, you'd have to add in Billy Hughes, who changed parties five times, but what's conspicuous these days is how willingly former Labor politicians now sell out their base, and go at it like pigs in a trough.

    2. Psssst DP, have I mentioned before that the ALP is now a party of 'whatever it takes" careerists who'll do whatever it takes to advance their careers ?

  5. Again, a great post. (This http://www.afr.com/opinion is the above Rowe cartoon link.)

    Bloody reptiles and graudianistas. The world's 'great religions' ALL got into government when still only a small but active minority. They then used the tools of government, not least coercive violence, to seal their grip on power, to supress alternative beliefs, and to expand their influence and control. After a short while a growing majority unwittingly came to hold whichever religious belief their parents passed down.

    In short that's the religious "process of conviction" facts. Leave it up to only a few neo-nazi wannabe hansonite nongs and your grandkids shall be observant moslem nongs who'll 'know' the climate change they're suffering is simply the will of a god they must submit to.

    Ah yes, more cheese anyone?

    1. "...unacknowledged complicities of modern life."

      WTF, modern life is now a crime? Always is, was, will be, is, was always a crime? Ah no, yes, what? .. Of course that pair of buggers would see life so, and are so not complicit in the modern being seen presently as it were.

      The complicit in RN modern acknowledged:





  6. "... they would never have put Bill Shorten in charge ..."

    But, butt, DP, who else ? Not Albanese, please not Albanese. And please not Plibersek either.

    These days with a Labor party filled with "whatever it takes' careerists who is there to take the helm ?

    My own personal preference is Penny Wong, but for an assortment of reasons, she thinks she's unelectable, so what are the chances ?

  7. "..royal ratbag"



    How's Abbott's form going? Ming's old sinecure is currently held by another expert submariner..

    1. The pommie minister for Aborigines lord warden form looks better by the day - just like him, the fourth in line to the British throne will captain Aborigines in the remote bush

  8. Recently, while in Canberra, my Dad picked up a copy of Guy Rundle's "50 People Who Stuffed Up Australia" (a subversive little tome that ranks the most influential Australians in history, as well as the present political and media figures, according to how badly they ruined the country). You'd be surprised how many of the Pond's favourite members of the loony commentariat once considered themselves dedicated Maoists.

  9. Look at this leftist toaster. It take perfectly good white bread and turns it brown.



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